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Your opponent has set up a hidden code. You must guess which color pegs he's used and the order he's placed them in. With over 2000 combinations possible, Mastermind is a challenge every time you play.
After each guess, the codemaker will give you clues that can help you get closer to your goal. Look back at the clues you received on previous turns and try to figure out through logic and deduction what the patterns are telling you.
Ten moves are all you have to crack the code. But can you do it in fewer moves than it takes for your opponent to crack the code you make?
Four holes, six colors, and ten chances. That's all. But this game can keep you up half the night trying to outdo your opponent and asking for 'one more try'.
Most of my life I have stayed away from abstract logic games, but when my wife introduced me to Mastermind I changed my mind. There is something addictive about this little game.
The board is nice and simple, having changed very little in the 30+ years since the game first hit the shelves, but the changes have definitely made it more playable and portable. The peg storage area on the side of the board is nice.
Scoring in this game is pretty much inconsequential, but the rules suggest that each code maker gets points equal to the number of turns it took the codebreaker to guess thier code. So if it takes my opponent three turns to guess my code, I get three points. You can play to a set number of rounds or a set number of points, either way works.
All in all, this is a great game to have in the house, not only becuase it is fun but also because it is sure to build some 'grey matter' in anyone who plays it. You will play this game over and over for years.
This game of code and decode came on with a splash in the 1970's and has remained an excellent game of logic. Its exclusion from Games Magazine Hall or Fame will forever baffle me. Many young people have never heard of the game, other than the version offered by computer. It should receive more fanfare than it gets.
The object of Master Mind is to solve a 'hidden' code consisting of colored pegs. You do this by making 'guesses' as to the correct identity of the code. Each guess results in appropriate feedback from your opponent. As you place each guess and receive additional feedback, the number of possible codes remaining becomes less and less until there is only one possible code left.
Regular Master Mind has four holes and six colored pegs for a total of 1,296 different possible permutations. If you allow the code breaker to place one of more 'blanks' in the code (think of the blank as being an 'invisible' or 'clear' peg) this raises the number of codes to 2,401. For those that find this is not enough, you may wish to try Super Master Mind which introduces two additional colored pegs and one additional hole for a total of 32,768 codes. (59,049 if you allow blanks!)
Please note that when making guesses, the 'expert' code breaker doesn't always play a POSSIBLE code... the code breaker may actually make a guess that he/she knows cannot possibly be correct... but does so because the resulting feedback will actually make things easier on his/her next guess.
Master Mind is asymmetrical, i.e. it is one of the few games in which both you and your opponent do not start off the game with identical materials and goals. You each take turns being both the code maker and the code breaker. Thus, Master Mind is essentially a solitaire game, a game for the code BREAKER.
There are actually numerous methods of scoring, most of which aren't mentioned in the rules. The easiest method is probably to simply agree on a set number of games. Your score is the number of rows (guesses) it took you to solve the code for all these games. The person who has LOWEST total after the games is the winner. For example, if my opponent and I agree on a three-game match and I solve my opponent's code in 4 rows in Game 1, in 5 rows in Game 2, and again in 5 rows in our my game, my total score for the three games is 14. My opponent must then do better than this in his three games to beat me.
Another method is to simply play a best two-out-of-three or three-out-of-five series... the actual number of guesses one takes in solving the code is not accumulated. With this method, if one player has a bad game and scores poorly in the first game of a series, he/she can still come back and win the series by outperforming his/her opponent in the next few games.
Another method of scoring is with the use of a chess clock! The person who solves his/her code fastest, regardless of the number of rows it takes, is the winner. Your kids may have an advantage on you here. (Shoot, your kids may have an advantage over you anyway!)
Although most games take just a few minutes to play, usually you will want to play several games at each sitting. I, more than once, have thought for more than an hour on a code (Super Master Mind) and I know I'm not the only one who has done so.
The board is visually appealing and takes up very little space on your coffee table. Considering the low price, it's an excellent purchase and if taken care of, your board and pieces will last a lifetime.
Master Mind is certainly not for everyone. I know too many people who would never subject themselves to the 'mental torture' and thought processes that are often required to solve a hidden code. I, however, must not be one of these people. I can still recall as a young lad, 25 years ago, running around our house asking 'Who wants to give me a code to solve!' I had FUN solving them... and I still do! And based upon the number of spin-offs the game has produced (Grand Master Mind, Word Master Mind, Travel Master Mind etc.) and the number of Master Mind computer programs and Java applets that have been written, others have certainly enjoyed the game as much as I have.
Master Mind isn't a family game and it isn't party game. It's not a game you play when you get together with a bunch of friends or a game you play when you simply want to sit back and be entertained... but then again Master Mind doesn't pretend to be any of these things either. Master Mind scores a hit for what it is... a simple, elegant game that can be enjoyed by men and women, boys and girls, the young and the old, anywhere, at any time. For this reason I give it five stars.